Snow isolates Moroccan mountain villages more used to sun

Bitter cold and exceptionally heavy snowfall have beleaguered parts of Morocco this winter, disrupting schools, closing national highways — and delighting residents in cities where it hadn't snowed for decades.

The effects are starkest in the north African nation's Middle Atlas mountains, home to many hard-to-reach villages with poor infrastructure. The range that once protected local Amazigh tribes from attacks now isolates remote hillside villages, often for months on end.

This year, the 150 families living in Tighanimin, a village 311 miles (500 kilometers) south of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, were marooned when the rocky mountain paths disappeared under three feet of snow. Temperatures routinely plummet below zero degrees Celcius (32 degrees Celsius) after sundown, and the homes aren't equipped with electricity or running water.